Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    Einstein's reply to Zionist Robert Weltsch's objection to the publication of a letter from Dr. Hugo Bergmann, a proponent of conciliation between Arabs and Jews

    Albert Einstein Historically Important Autograph Letter Signed "A. Einstein" in German, one page, 8.75" x 11.25", [Berlin, November 25, 1929].
    Written on the verso of, and replying to, Robert Weltsch, Autograph Letter Signed "Weltsch" in German, [Berlin], November 21, 1929.

    Robert Weltsch (1891-1982), born in Prague, was a journalist and prominent Zionist who edited the Jüdische Rundschau ("Jewish Review"), a newspaper published twice a week in Berlin, from 1919-1938. From 1925 to 1933, Weltsch was active in the Zionist organization Brit Shalom which advocated a bi-national solution in Palestine, with Jews and Arabs living together.

    On November 21, 1929, Weltsch wrote to Einstein, in full, "Dear Professor, Bergmann is sending me today a copy of a letter addressed to you that is intended for publication. I am totally against any such publication. I am convinced that doing this would only be detrimental - internally as well as externally - to the cause we are representing. Proceeding in this manner, we could not expect to gain any support for the idea of communication. You know my point of view regarding the necessity of communication. However, I think Bergmann's idea of public propagation would stir embitterment and fail to accomplish the aim. It seems to me now (after publication of your interview in 'Oeuvre') there is a need for a period of silence on our part. If I can be of further assistance in this matter, I am at your disposal at any time. Yours truly."

    Czech-born Hugo Bergmann (1883-1975) emigrated to Palestine in 1920 and founded, with philosopher Martin Buber, a movement promoting a "bi-national" area where Jews and Arabs could live under equal conditions. He was the first director of the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem from 1925-1935. Bergmann was a professor at the Hebrew University and a leader of Brit Shalom.

    From Jerusalem, Hugo Bergmann had written a letter to Einstein advocating a policy of conciliation between Arabs and Jews in Palestine. Einstein had suggested the letter be published, with a few technical changes. Bergmann made these changes and sent Weltsch (and Einstein) a copy. On November 23, 1929, before Einstein had received Weltsch's November 21st letter, Einstein sent Weltsch Bergmann's manuscript, recommending its publication.

    When Einstein received Weltsch's November 21st letter, he penned this undated [November 25] reply on the verso of Weltsch's letter. In German with full English translation: "Dear Mr. Weltsch, You are quite correct. It is my fault in as much as I had asked Mr. Bergmann for his opinion regarding phraseology of the publication. That was not a good idea in the first place and secondly, in view of what already had been said, it would have been too much. I am explaining that to Mr. Bergmann in the letter enclosed (I know Bergmann personally and cannot write to him in English, or he might think I have gone crazy! Best regards." In a lengthy handwritten postscript, Einstein adds "P.S. I would prefer the article for the Arabic newspaper to be translated here, even at the risk of getting a translation in less than perfect English. The other option seems to be too uncontrollable and also unsecured. It could be that Bergmann's command of English is inadequate and he would have to consult other individuals, possibly resulting in much advance ado and debating, which must be avoided at any cost."

    In August 1929, three months before these letters were written, Arabs attacked Jewish settlements near Jerusalem. Disturbances soon spread throughout Palestine. After six days, British troops quelled the riots. More than 300 Jews were wounded; 135 were killed. To appease the Arabs, Britain prohibited Jews from living in Gaza and Hebron, two of the major areas of rioting. On November 20, 1929, just a day before Weltsch wrote this letter to Einstein, a statement was issued by Hugo Bergmann to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and published in newspapers around the world. In part, from The New York Times, November 21, 1929: "Dr. Bergmann...urges the Zionists to organize a round table conference immediately for discussion with Arab leaders concerning their future relations and future government in Palestine. 'The inhabitants of this country have a right to a Legislative Assembly in which they can express their views and help the conduct of the government. This will not hurt the Jews.'" He stated that "all Arab parties are united against is only natural that the Arabs should fear talk of a Jewish State and a Jewish majority." The Palestinian Arab newspaper "Falastin" endorsed Bergmann's views, commenting, "Had the Zionists attempted to work out a plan similar to this and in the same spirit, Palestine would have been a different country from what it is today."

    On November 25, 1929, Einstein wrote to Chaim Weizmann, future first President of Israel, in part, "If we do not succeed in finding the path of honest cooperation and coming to terms with the Arabs, we will not have learned anything from our two thousand year old ordeal and will deserve the fate which will beset us."

    In the postscript to his letter here offered, Einstein writes that he "would prefer the article for the Arabic newspaper to be translated here." The article to Azmi El-Nashashibi, editor of the Palestinian Arab newspaper Falastin, expressed Einstein's views advocating reconciliation with the Arab population of Palestine. It was published on January 28, 1930. In full, "One who, like myself, has cherished for many years the conviction that the humanity of the future must be built up on an intimate community of the nations, and that aggressive nationalism must be conquered, can see a future for Palestine only on the basis of peaceful cooperation between the two peoples who are at home in the country. For this reason I should have expected that the great Arab people will show a truer appreciation of the need which the Jews feel to rebuild their national home in the ancient seat of Judaism; I should have expected that by common effort ways and means would be found to render possible an extensive Jewish settlement in the country. I am convinced that the devotion of the Jewish people to Palestine will benefit all the inhabitants of the country, not only materially, but also culturally and nationally. I believe that the Arab renaissance in the vast expanse of territory now occupied by the Arabs stands only to gain from Jewish sympathy. I should welcome the creation of an opportunity for absolutely free and frank discussion of these possibilities, for I believe that the two great Semitic peoples, each of which has in its way contributed something of lasting value to the civilization of the West, may have a great future in common, and that instead of facing each other with barren enmity and mutual distrust, they should support each other's national and cultural endeavors, and should seek the possibility of sympathetic co-operation. I think that those who are not actively engaged in politics should above all contribute to the creation of this atmosphere of confidence. I deplore the tragic events of last August not only because they revealed human nature in its lowest aspects, but also because they have estranged the two peoples and have made it temporarily more difficult for them to approach one another. But come together they must, in spite of all."

    Einstein letters relating to the problems between the Arabs and Jews living in Palestine in the decade following the Balfour Declaration rarely appear on the market and are extremely desirable. There are two file holes in the blank left margin of the Einstein side and tears at the blank right edge. Minute separation at the lower edge of the mid-vertical fold touches one letter penned by Einstein who squeezed the last line of his postscript onto the page. Overall, in very good condition.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2008
    17th-18th Friday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,377

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.

    Sold on Oct 18, 2008 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2021 October 20 Manuscripts Signature Auction - Dallas.

    Learn about consigning with us

    We had a wonderful time in New York during the October 2013 Historical Manuscripts auction that featured my mother’s papers collected during her tenure as Martin Luther King, Jr.’s secretary. In fact, the entire experience from beginning to end has been a pleasure.
    Howard Ballou,
    Brandon, MS
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search